Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Écija and Carmona

We’re approaching the end of our time in Spain, but we’re trying not to let the sadness get in the way of enjoying our remaining days. This last weekend, our friends Lola and Eduardo took us to visit Écija and Carmona, two pretty pueblos along the highway to Sevilla. We’d passed by both these pueblos before, since they’re right along the main highway, but hadn’t taken the time to explore. We thoroughly enjoyed them, but it makes me wonder how many other treasures there are that we haven’t been able to see. A human life just isn’t long enough to see everything. See the pictures at:

Écija is one of the ancient pueblos of Córdoba. It was founded in the eighth century B.C. by the Tartessos, a pre-Roman tribe. It came under the control of the Carthaginians, and passed to the Romans following the Second Punic War (that was the one where Hannibal took his elephants across the Pyrenees). In 14 B.C., it was re-named Astigi by the emperor Caesar Augustus. It enjoyed a few centuries of prosperity due to the production of olive oil, exported down the Río Genil to the Río Guadalquivir to the Mediterranean Sea and then to Rome. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the pueblo was under Visigothic rule until the Islam conquest of the Iberian peninsula in the eighth century A.D. The Muslims changed the name to Istiya, and made it a provincial capital under the Córdoban caliphate. It was taken by the Christians during the Reconquista in 1240. Much of the city was destroyed in the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755. Afterward, Écija became the base of operations for a powerful group of landowners, who built palacios that make the city a joy to wander through today. Still, my favorite part was the archaeological museum.

We drove on to La Luisiana (I find that name funny) for lunch. It’s the pueblo where Lola works as a special education teacher. La Luisiana is one of the new pueblos built during the 1700’s to guard the Sevilla highway from robbers. It’s interesting to live in an area where the new places were built in the 1700’s.

The next destination was Carmona, a hilltop pueblo almost all the way to Sevilla. It is quite pretty, with well-preserved Roman walls. The owner of an ice cream shop was proudly showing us how they had built around some ancient Roman arches to construct the shop. We went up to the Parador (a nationally-owned luxury hotel chain) to drink tea on the terrace and enjoy the view of the Río Genil valley. What a very pleasant way to wrap up the day!

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